How to Spot the First Signs of Addiction
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But in the case of addiction, the earlier an addict gets intervention, the better the outcome. Thus, we need to be aware of the earliest signs of addiction or substance use disorder. How do you know if the drugs or alcohol you’ve been using has made you an addict? It actually differs from substance to substance. Other factors like environment and genetics also play a role.
According to Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP, the person who fears becoming addicted should first become aware of how much drugs he’s consuming. Addiction typically involves substance abuse or using drugs too often and in large doses. If you’re using too much of something, that’s a red flag that you might be on the path to addiction. You might even be an addict already. Addiction doesn’t usually happen at smaller doses or irregular intervals of usage.
A Primer on Addiction
Before you can spot the first signs of addiction you need to first be aware of what addiction is in the first place. You also need to know what makes addiction dangerous.
Addiction happens when your cravings for substances and behaviors go beyond your ability to control yourself, resulting in a wide range of harmful acts, physical statuses, and circumstances. Remember that although we can categorize addiction symptoms into categories, the reality is that there are overlaps among symptoms. Many of them can lead to one another. For instance, you may want to use money that’s supposed to be for food to purchase drugs instead. This can lead to you not getting enough nutrients because your food allowance has become your drug allowance.
You can also get a growing aversion to social interactions and relationship problems as a result of your addiction. This can then lead to worse psychological problems rooted in your loneliness and inability to connect to others, like anxiety and depression.
The Main Symptoms and Signs of Addiction
The leading symptom of addiction is problematic pattern of use or abuse of a certain substance as you keep chasing the high or feeling of drunkenness. This then leads to distress or significant impairment. The specific signs associated with your problematic pattern of use will vary from substance to substance and person to person. It’s all about losing your self-control and caving in to the whims of your cravings.
Loss of self-control is common. You can distinguish an addict when he loses control of all logic and prioritizes his addiction above all else. When someone is suffering from substance use disorder, he finds it difficult to stop himself from using his substance of choice. His cravings seemingly push him like a hypnotized zombie towards using a substance over and over again. Even if harm is apparent, he would still use it.
The more powerful your cravings are for a substance, the more addicted you are to it. In other words, your behavior as an addict will be influenced by ever-growing cravings to use and abuse it. Because of this, you will likely find it hard to stop using the substance even if you want to. This goes double for those who have no intention of quitting at all.
There are varying symptoms of addiction that go on a case-by-case basis. These depend on factors like genetics, environment, personal circumstances, and the drug in question. For example, a family history of drug use can make it likelier for family members to become addicts. Your mind’s ability to resist temptation and body’s ability to prevent substance use disorder also comes to play.
Substance Addiction versus Substance Use
Users who have tolerance against addiction or haven’t used enough drugs to be addicted can literally stop anytime. In fact, they often do exactly that. This is different from those who claim they can stop anytime as a rationalization for their out-of-control consumption. In many cases, dependence on substances like alcohol, nicotine, and various drugs will involve the person trying to give them up at least once but failing to do so. They attempt to go off the substance cold turkey but fail. That’s a sign of addiction.
With substances like nicotine, there’s a physical or physiological reason why you keep on craving products like cigars and cigarettes. Your body is chemically imbalanced and this compels you to keep consuming tobacco as though it’s food and you’re hungry for it. This is also the case of heroin, which is chemically addictive and will cause you severe withdrawal symptoms if you were to stop taking them. In such cases, you need detox and rehab to kick the habit.
You might be an addict if you keep on using your substance of choice despite it causing you bodily harm in more ways than one. It’s as if you’re forced to regularly take the substance even though you’re aware of how bad it is for you and even though you’ve developed illnesses because of it. Those who aren’t addicted will quit using once they fall sick because of the drug. However, those who are addicted can’t help themselves to for example smoke despite of lung or heart disease. Or they are unaware of the health impact of their behavior or the substance.
Psychological Symptoms of Addiction
Mental disorders can develop due to addiction and can serve as symptoms of such. There are also times when the roles are reversed and addiction instead serves as the symptom of your mental disorder. This is the case when being addicted becomes your way of coping with your condition.
When it comes to alcohol use disorder, taking a large initial dose is unfortunately commonplace. You might be an addict or alcoholic if you rapidly consume mass amounts of a given substance like alcohol in order to feel better about yourself and feel a tremendous high or drunken stupor even though the consequences of such actions can lead to a head-throbbing hangover the morning after or much, much worse.
A person with addiction tendencies will tend to deal with problems through taking drugs. If they feel a lot of pressure at work, they might drink at a bar until they’re drunk or relax with a joint. They might even be students taking stimulants in order to do better at their studies. Drug addiction might serve as a coping mechanism to the point of obsession. Meanwhile, an addict who’s obsessed with their drug of choice might spend more and more time finding ways to get more of the substance or new methods of taking it, like going from snorting to injecting into the bloodstream.
An addict might engage in risky behavior or take unnecessary risks in order to obtain the substance they’re addicted to or act in such a way that endangers them in order to get another hit or dose of their favored drug. There are addicts who trade sex for drugs or steal money in order to buy expensive substances. They might even steal the drugs themselves from their drug pushers with disastrous results afterwards. People under the influence can also do risky activities like driving while drunk or being violent.
Using substances like alcohol can lead to secrecy and solitude, as in the case of alcohol isolation where drunks drink away from prying eyes to hide that they’re alcoholics. Addiction can affect the way you socialize and relate to people as well.
An addict might give up some activities and hobbies that previously brought him joy because of his substance dependence. More to the point, he might turn down invitations to go camping or spend time rowing a boat in favor of indulging in alcohol or marijuana. He won’t go to any events where alcoholic drinks or cannabis joints aren’t available. A person dependent on nicotine might choose not to meet up with friends in case they go to a restaurant or pub where smoking is forbidden.
Addiction is invasive and all-consuming, so much so that you might stop partaking in pastimes you previously took pleasure in, whether that’s dancing, painting, playing video games, and so on. You’re too busy snorting cocaine or lighting up a cigarette to take care of your stamp collection, go bird watching, catch up with your various favorite TV shows, keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so forth. Smokers, for instance, might find that they’re unable to physically cope with taking part of their favorite sport like swimming or football.
Another sign of addiction is the addict being secretive and alone. A person who’s addicted might become a recluse in order to use drugs in secret as though ashamed by his usage. Furthermore, he might even be in denial of his true state. A significant number of addicts are unaware that they’re addicts or don’t care about the label of being addicts anymore, embracing the downward spiral of their own condition. Even though they’re aware of their physical dependence, they refuse to accept the need for rehabilitation, lying to themselves that they can quit anytime they want to.
Physical Symptoms and Signs of Addiction
Abusing drugs — whether illicit drugs or prescription drugs — can lead to complications. These range from cancer (from smoking tobacco) to brain problems (from using marijuana as a developing teen).
Your way of consuming a substance can be dangerous as well. Smoking things like weed, crystal meth, and crack cocaine can damage your lungs. Repeatedly abusing a substance can impair many bodily systems and functions.
Withdrawal symptoms are common. When your levels of substance abuse drops to a certain level after you’ve become an addict, you will experience physical symptoms of withdrawal that differs from drug to drug. These can include uncharacteristic behavior like violence, sweats, seizures, trembling, diarrhea, constipation, and constant cravings for the drug you’re not using.
The drugs you take or abuse will alter your appetite for food. For example, consuming marijuana can lead you to crave food or have what they call as “munchies”. Infamously, cocaine reduces appetite, so much so that certain supermodels use it in order to keep their weight controlled.
Other Physical Effects of Addiction
You can develop lung cancers and other respiratory diseases from smoking crack and tobacco or at least throat issues from smoking marijuana. Injecting illegal substances, meanwhile, can lead to vein and artery problems or limb damage. Specifically, you can develop some sort of infection that can lead to the loss of an arm, a finger, or a leg where you inject drugs. Regular alcohol consumption can also lead to chronic liver issues.
A common withdrawal symptom among addicts is sleeplessness or insomnia. Usage of illegal stimulants such as Ecstasy and speed might also encourage the addict to disrupt his sleep cycle, such as staying up late every night or many nights in a row in order to party hard or have sexual interactions every time.
Using drugs such as meth can lead to a significant and negative change in your aesthetic appearance. You might become more haggard, tired, and disheveled. Most addicts end up neglecting their grooming and hygiene. As mentioned earlier, addictive behaviors tend to replace key parts of your routine, such as bathing or washing your laundry.
Across the board, every addict tends to chase after the high they’ve gotten. This is because desensitization (i.e., your body getting used to the effects of a given drug) is typical. This leads to you either stopping usage or consuming more to get a high. Over time, your body can reduce the effects of drugs, leading one to take more of the substance to reach the same high.
Legal, Moral, and Financial Implications
You’re likelier to end up with legal trouble using illegal substances. As for alcoholism, police can arrest you for driving under the influence or for disturbing peace when you drink in public. These substances can impair your judgment, leading you to make risky actions. They can make you break the law, become violent, and cause public disorder.
Ostensibly, sooner or later, you will end up in dire financial straits when abusing various drugs and alcoholic drinks. It’s expensive to secure a regular supply of drugs. This can lead to you being broke or your bankruptcy. The more expensive the substance, the faster you’ll end up at the poor house or resort to actions like borrowing/stealing money from friends and family. You could take out a loan to buy more drugs as well even though you can’t pay the loan back when push comes to shove.
The Domino Effect in Addiction
A domino effect of adverse circumstances usually follows after addiction symptoms have set in. In other words, the symptoms themselves push the addict into adverse circumstances. Substance use disorders or addiction have a wide range of social, physical, and psychological effects. All of these reduce an addict’s quality of life.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction can help you get treatment post-haste. This will prevent you from suffering from overdose and possibly even dying from addiction. Medical professionals presently diagnose this condition under the “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” category.
Dealing with Addiction at Its Earliest Signs
Are you dealing with addiction at its earliest signs? Do you want to know if you’re becoming or are already an addict? Then read the article above and see for yourself if you’ve become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol as well as substances like tobacco. Addiction is when people engage in addictive behavior despite knowing better or being vaguely aware of their predicament.
Lanna Rehab is a renowned addiction treatment center that is known across the globe in terms of world-class holistic substance abuse rehabilitation, dual diagnosis services, and addiction aftercare offerings. Please contact them ASAP on their telephone hotline for more details on booking schedules and free consultation.